7 min read
LOUD COLORS, HARD FEELINGS & TASTY TUNES
Ever wonder what it feels like to be a dog? Let's take that idea on a walk, because I've had up to here with humans.
Without mentors like Bob McKee, Mark Swanson, and Dave Bour, I’d have very little to say on this topic (or any other). So thanks, fellas. Mean it.
Consciousness is jazz.
Not the solo, instruments or orchestra.
Imagine you're naked.
Imagine you're running around naked, sweatily cleaning your apartment in a race against the clock. The phone buzzes.
Now imagine your dog is in the corner of the room, staring. He's already witnessed all your weirdest naked moments if we're being honest (we are).
It begs a fascinating question: should you bother to give a shit?
Before you grant dogs access to the most intimate angles and embarrassing views, shouldn't we figure out i? Humans would never get the unrated version. But a dog? Whole 'nother story.
Scenario: it's just me and Rufus on a lazy Saturday.
Outcome: five seconds (tops) before I splash around in the bathtub eating a bowl of oatmeal and start belting out Tupac lyrics mixed with religious hymns (try it, it's hilarious) to the beat of the sorry-dude-you're-on-hold-until-August music, which I can only assume AT&T deploys over our speakerphones as both a caller-dissuasion tactic and mind control device.
"Get that weak shit outta here."
- Rufus probably
"Get over yourself! I've been naked my entire life! Remember? I'm just a four-legged, poop-eating, crotch-licking, butt-sniffing BFF! And I love me some Tupac in the tub!
Let's unpack his sharply pointed words.
The answer, it turns out, is as weird as the question. In short, he said, "Get over yourself."
Now, if you have a dog, I'll take a wild stab at it and say that dog naked right now, except for maybe a collar. How am I doing?
How often do you notice that?
Same story for dogs. They're focused on dog stuff.
Because they have an uncanny ability to read people, predict weather and sense danger well before we’re able. They ain't gon' waste their precious 7X life drooling over your dumper.
Magic doesn't exist — only illusion and theater do. It may look like magic when a puppy predicts the tornado coming tonight, but their methods are actually much cooler than lame fake magic.
To get a good picture of what's going on, let's start by picking apart each way the biology of their vision-makers varies so vastly from ours.
But first, let’s define what it is. Think of vision as a symphony, not a solo. And think of your eyes as a Maestro.
Your eyes headline every show. But dogs’ eyes are just the opening act.
Dogs see the world differently. It’s difficult to imagine how reality looks for your pup through the lens of your own because yours is dominated by vision and analysis, whereas theirs is all about smell and emotion.
What’s really going on in Rufus’ head tells a fascinating story: dogs get an overwhelming amount of information from their sniffers and, in a way, see with their noses first. In the same way human eyes are so good finding spiders and other danger-shaped things, dogs’ noses can literally smell trouble as soon as it's off the elevator.
But what about their actual eyes? Are they special?
In most measurable ways, dogs simply have lesser eyes than we humans. Their sight is blurrier, their color palette resembles someone with red/green color blindness, and they see less contrast between the brightness of hues because they struggle to perceive the difference.
That said, in several ways dog-eyes have a leg up on people-eyes. They perceive movement easier than we can (for them, TV is a series of flashing images like an old nickelodeon flip-book film) and have a wider field of view.
Plus, we know from optical illusions that our brains do a lot of educated guessing based on the data it gets from our eyes. So, it’s impossible to account for all the insights and deductions dogs make with their noses.
"Paint me like one of your French girls."
- Rufus probably
He who barks may see in the dark.
That's not in the bible (yet) but it should be. Because it's true. They see much better in the dark than we do.
Perhaps that’s why they’re so good at making sure their butthole points at your face when it's time to go nuh-night?
Anyways. Their night vision became superior when their species evolved an eye made mostly of rod cells. These pick up shades of gray; meanwhile, a human eye is made mostly out of cone cells to perceive color. Rods don’t need as much light to do their job as cones need.
To remember this information correctly, I picture some gray-ish old dude named Rod who's incredibly boring, but effective and reliable. He's the OG, the Big Fundamental.
Rods are a Wikipedia page on Tim Duncan.
Cones are colorful. If you spot bright colors in nature, it suggests an extremely rare plant. So our cones work to display the vivid light energy inside. After all, it's in their best interest to get eaten, then spread into the soil and born again.
Think of cones like a crazy Buddha who is colorful and gets constantly reincarnated as plants and trees. I won't photoshop a picture of that. I do have a life, you know.*
Most importantly, they get so much data from their nose that it doesn’t make a huge difference if the lights are on.
So, dogs will always be better equipped to see in the dark.
From biology to psychology, there are unfathomable differences between people and dogs. But what’s more remarkable is how much we have in common. Turns out, we share a lot more than just our favorite person.
The next time your dog’s tail goes straight and ears go down just before a bad storm comes through, or the next time your dog doesn’t like someone and it turns out to be good advice, just know it wasn’t something you missed.
They smelled the whole thing coming.
*not actually true
Took you long enough.
BRAT-LIKE REFLEXES & CATS WITH FREE WILL
Do cats love us back, or just use us for ours? We can learn a lot about human consciousness by painting this vivid picture of the private world of cats.